Are You Giving Your Shoppers the Haptic Gratification They Deserve?

I came across a great expression this week, in a Business Week article – “haptic gratification”.

I must confess that in my ignorance I was unaware of the term “haptic”, which according to my dictionary means “of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.”

Haptic Gratification - relates to the sense of touch (image by mind on fire)

Haptic Gratification - relates to the sense of touch (image by mind on fire)

Haptic gratification as part of the shopping experience

The haptic gratification in shopping therefore is the ability for people to handle a product, in order to get a full sense of it and make a purchasing decision.
As all of us involved in the world of ecommerce know, one of the biggest barriers to online shopping is just that – that humans prefer to touch and feel a product before buying – something they obviously can’t do online.
It’s not just the sensory feeling they’re looking for in handling a product. The physical touching of a product allows shoppers to get a better sense of size, shape, weight, color and more.
Or as Sheldon Gilbert of Proclivity Systems says in the article:

We’re emotive, sensory creatures, so we need to touch and feel to be comfortable with our consumer decision.

Bridging the Haptic Gap

While, the internet and thereby online shopping by nature are not compatible with the haptic experience, what online retailers can do, is help ease the buying decision by bringing consumers as close of a hands-on experience as the medium allows.

Product videos are of course a great tool to that end, especially when executed well. All online stores offer static images of products, but these are not enough for the sensory shopper who wants to get more of a feel for the item. Product videos on the other hand offer a near sensory experience, allowing shoppers to see individual products from multiple angles in various uses, with a full narration of attributes.

Google only shows four results for the search term “haptic gratification”, but I think as ecommerce grows and we evolve the language around it to describe the type of shopping experiences we’re looking to create, it’s going to be a big one. At least it puts into words exactly what it is we’re trying to do.

Image credit: mind on fire